Israel was established and continues to exist in a mentality of constant war. Our racism is only a symptom.
One of the most influential institutions in Iranian politics is the Guardian Council. Among its many roles, the Council filters out presidential candidates, deciding who can and who cannot run in the elections. It even has the power to disqualify former presidents, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from running again. And as befits a religious dictatorship, its considerations are far from democratic.
And yet, after Ehud Barak announced his return to Israeli politics last week, I couldn’t help but envy the power of the Guardian Council. While the Iranians have a turnover of their own failed or corrupt leaders, we seem to be stuck in the endless loop with our own figureheads.
Barak’s re-entry into politics helps clarify the choice that Israelis are facing in the upcoming elections: militarism or racism. On the one hand we have a right-wing camp headed by Netanyahu, who over his 10-year rule has institutionalized racism against the Palestinian public. On the other hand, we have the “anyone but Bibi” camp, headed by the generals of Blue and White and Ehud Barak’s new party, respectively.
It is true that both camps are rife with militarism and racism: much of Netanyahu’s political capital was built on the back of his brother, Yoni, who was killed while commanding an elite IDF unit during Operation Entebbe in 1976. On the other hand, the general’s camp derides Palestinians, and its refusal to join forces with the Palestinian parties has contributed to the incitement and delegitimization of the Arab public writ large.
The difference between the two camps is the ratio between the two components and the kind of discourse with which they are associated: Netanyahu is seen as promoting a kind of shameless, folksy racism, while the generals peddle a hawkish security-based discourse.
We intuitively tend to scorn the blatantly racist discourse more than the militaristic one, perhaps because the latter is more transparent to us. But in my view, Israeli society’s entrenched militarism is actually the more difficult disease to treat, both in terms of diagnosis and prognosis.
The truth is that in the current Israeli reality, the two seem to us indistinguishable. Israeli children get a healthy dose of both racism and militarism from a young age, from the moment they are drafted into the ranks in kindergarten, preparing care...Read More